By Kathleen Gilbert

August 13, 2009 ( – While American Catholic nuns continue to undergo scrutiny from a Vatican investigation, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) invited Cokie Roberts, a political commentator who has criticized the Church's prohibition against abortion, contraception, and homosexuality, as the keynote speaker for their annual meeting this week.  Another Catholic group, Supporting Our Aging Religious (SOAR), has announced it will host a dinner in honor of Roberts and her husband Steve in November of this year.

New Orleans native Cokie Roberts spoke at the LCWR summit in the same city Tuesday, according to a Times-Picayune report.

Cokie Roberts, a Roman Catholic, is an ABC News political commentator and National Public Radio senior news analyst who has spoken out against laws restricting abortion.  Roberts characterized the partial-birth abortion ban as “cynical game-playing” by pro-life activists, and said she found it “offensive as a woman” that the Supreme Court upheld the ban in 2007.

In a 2006 column, Roberts also ridiculed bishops who proclaim the Catholic Church's teaching against contraception and homosexuality.  “It's as if they are asking to be ignored,” she wrote.  Roberts also attacked Pope Benedict XVI as “really lacking in the theological virtue of charity.”

Ironically, LCWR's president indicated discussion at the four-day summit would likely focus on the apostolic visitation Rome initiated earlier this year, which will examine the orders' work and life in light of authentic Catholic Church teaching.

LCWR president Sister J. Lora Dambroski indicated that the leaders had closed ranks in reaction to the visitation, and might issue an official rejoinder.

“This will be an opportunity to be who we are and to speak our truth, not to back away from that, and to understand what our common response will be,” she said. “It's a good chance for the sisters to be honest and to tell the story of who we are without fear.” 

While “we don't want to be in a defensive posture,” said the nun, “we have to clearly be who we are.”

In addition, the non-profit organization Save Our Aging Religious has announced that its next event will be a Washington D.C. benefit dinner on November 7 to honor Cokie and Steve Roberts with their Elizabeth Ann Seton Award.  SOAR is chaired by D.C.'s Monsignor John J. Enzler.

To respectfully express concern:

Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl
P.O. Box 29260
Washington, DC 20017-0260

Rev. Adam Park
Secretary to the Archbishop

Rev. Msgr. John Enzler
Vicar for Development

Support Our Aging Religious
900 Varnum Street, NE
Washington, DC 20017
phone: 202-529-7627 o 800-403-7627
fax: 202-529-7633
email: [email protected]

See related coverage:

U.S. Feminist Nun Urges Liberal Religious Orders to Resist “Hostile” Vatican Visitation

NETWORK's Sr. Campbell Backs Ryan-DeLauro “Planned Parenthood Bailout Bill”


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